June 06, 2013 | Matt Kucinski

Andrew Mitchell is building a suspended bridge in Kenya.

Every summer, hundreds of Calvin students scatter across the U.S. and around the world, researching, interning and exploring. This summer, some of these students are keeping us informed about their adventures. Next up: junior Andrew Mitchell of Iron Mountain, Mich., an engineering major at Calvin College. Andrew is spending the summer building a bridge in Kenya.

Where are you?

I am in Milimani, Kenya, located just outside of Kitale.

Why are you there?

I have an internship with a company called Bridging the Gap Africa.

What's your typical day like?

I have been in Kenya for about three weeks but only have worked for one week. I spent the first two weeks with my family touring around Kenya seeing the sights. But so far I have been on site which includes driving to the bridge site, working there until lunch and then working until about five.

When I am in town I go to a coffee shop to work with an engineer I am interning with on design spreadsheets and design calculations for current projects.

What (technically) are you doing?

I am working on quantity takeoffs, construction supervision, structural analysis and design and working in a cross-cultural environment.

What (in layperson's terms) are you doing?

I am a part of building a suspended bridge.

How has Calvin prepared you for this?

My time at Calvin has prepared me well for this experience. I have had to use programming, structural design and estimating materials techniques.

What has surprised you so far?

The amount of time spent waiting, whether it be for internet, food or traveling. It took me over 28 hours of traveling (not including layovers or rest stops) just to get to West Pokot (where the bridge site is).

How do you see this shaping your future?

I have already learned a lot about culture and engineering bridges. I think this will be a great experience for both social and technical skills.

Best thing you've eaten?

Goat leg, beef soup and chapati (a version of naan).

Best picture you've taken?

While I was on safari in the Masai Mara I took a picture of a male lion right before it growled.

What's gone wrong?

The community facilitator on the bridge site got mad and took his sledge hammer and went home. The hammer was being used to break rock where the foundations were going to go. Our right-hand man, who is very good at interpreting, communicated this to us by saying it "paralyzed" work.

Met anybody memorable?

Wesley Korir, who was the champion of the Boston marathon in 2012.

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